Overcoming age discrimination can seem like a huge barrier for many teachers or school administrators when looking for education jobs. Is there an age bias? I am sure there probably is, but it is how you handle the most important challenge.
Older or more mature education professionals could encounter a problem securing employment. Age discrimination is horrible; it prevents dedicated and qualified educators from moving forward with their careers.
How to Fight Age Discrimination Head-On
The age barrier is often why career advancement or a job search becomes a great feat for older employees, especially in a school highly dominated by younger teachers. If you are an older teacher, your job search may take twice as long as a younger teacher, statistically speaking.
Many older job hunters will avoid applying for a new position because it makes for a longer and tougher job search. If you belong to an age bracket of 50 and above, how do you overcome the age barrier to get a better shot at teaching positions?
Some schools or colleges may view the value of older applicants differently than younger applicants. Recruiting personnel may believe older job applicants are less tech-savvy and inflexible. You need to prove them wrong.
The best possible way to do this is to make your age a valuable asset.
Tips to Overcome Age Barrier and Use Experience to Your Advantage
More often than not, individuals on a job hunt use age as if it is an incapacitating condition. These people may think they are much older than other job applicants and may not try to get the position.
Age is often the subject of collective pessimism, and some may say sarcasm, but the key is not to let this overwhelm you. Keep your focus on other essential things you can control in the job interview and sell yourself to a potential employer.
As the cliche goes, ‘age is just a number.’
Prepare for Potential Age Barrier Problems
In a very competitive workplace, stereotyping is a common thing and what you need to do is prepare yourself for how to counteract it.
For instance, one common stereotype is that older employees are often stuck to their deep-rooted beliefs and are unwilling to adapt to the changes that are happening in their school.
Common Stereotypes Mature Job Seekers will Have to Fight Include:
- Tend to invest less in developing new skills
- Mature teachers are less excited or less passionate about teaching.
- Older people neglect their health.
- Tire easily and get exhausted by their teaching jobs
- The applicant is looking to slow down and “coast” to retirement.
- Experienced teachers are set in their ways – have less interest in exploring new ideas and opportunities.
It is essential to note that although these stereotypes exist, none of these stereotypes were statistically accurate.
When you write your cover letter or attend interviews, you need to specify that you are willing and flexible enough to familiarize yourself with the school’s ways.
Explain you look forward to sticking to the current education protocols implemented in the classroom. Try to put forth the idea that you are not looking to retire soon – that you want to be in the classroom for several years more. Be confident that you are still capable of doing what younger people can do and even more at your age.
And don’t forget to push your strengths – as a talented and highly experienced educator, one who has experienced and dealt with a wide range of issues and is therefore highly capable and dependable in the classroom.
Older employees are more loyal, focused, and possess unique experiences that younger employees don’t have. As the job seeker, your job is to highlight these aspects of your candidacy in your resume and cover letter and during teacher job interviews.
Achievements build credibility, and your credibility will sell you in your resume and at job interviews.
Ensure that your resume is full of your many career accomplishments – as an experienced educator, this will be your strong suit. Show school districts just how talented you are by describing what you’ve done to help students throughout your career. Put special emphasis on your most recent teaching experiences.
Accomplishments that you should highlight include:
- students’ performance on standardized testing
- improvements made in students’ reading/math skills (use quantitative data if possible)
- the technology you’ve used to improve learning outcomes
- any awards you’ve received
- leadership activities such as grade leader, professional development coordinator/presenter, committee member/leader, district committees, and any extracurricular activities you’ve led
- curriculum development, planning, mapping, or standard development
Technology Expertise and Professional Development
Because we are in a technological era, it is best to become tech-savvy. Knowledge of current teaching trends will help defeat the common perception that older employees cannot navigate a computer.
Get yourself familiar with common computer application programs like MS Office, Google Drive, social networking sites, educational software, SMART Boards, Chromebooks, and other applications. There are short-term courses available at local community colleges and professional development sessions you can take, which will help you become proficient in computer applications.
Use Experience as a Strength
Another key to avoiding the age discrimination stigma is to focus on all your accumulated work experiences and never allow your age to discourage you from reaching your career goals. Always have a ready answer when hiring personnel point out that you are overqualified for the teaching position or school administrator role you wish to secure.
Attacking the potential age discrimination head-on will point out that you are ready to take the teaching position and let them know how interested you are in working for their school. Age doesn’t need to be a hindrance. Mature or older teachers bring a wealth of experience and skills to a school district that younger teachers don’t have.
Besides, because of your experience and length of time in the teaching field, you will have garnered a large professional network that you can use to help you find a new teaching job. This is a hugely helpful resource. By having a referral or contacts within certain schools and school districts, you may be able to skip the line and move right to the interview process.
Age Should Not be a Barrier
At work, skills and experience are what matters. Include the full knowledge of your responsibilities based on the jobs you performed in the past will show your expertise and wisdom. Always assume you have a more competitive edge because of your teaching experience. Never allow the thought of being older to distract you from achieving your goal.